Lake Titicaca is located 158 kilometers from the city of La Paz at 3,841 m. It is also called the "Sacred Lake" due to its great importance for ancient cultures like Tiwanaku and Inca. It is South America’s second largest lake and the highest navigable lake in the world. This lake, shared by Bolivia and Peru, has an extension of over 8 000 sq km; the Bolivian part of the lake houses the largest island: la Isla del Sol.
The purity of its waters favors the life of a myriad of fauna composed of Andean ducks, alpacas, llamas and multiple species of fish. In terms of flora, it houses 12 varieties of aquatic plants, being totora (a reedlike papyrus) the most important and representative one. This is an herbaceous plant that can be two meters high. The people living by the lake use totora to build balsas, rush mats and crafts. In the town of Sawina, 10 minutes from Copacabana, you can see the construction of floating totora islands.
Isla del Sol
It is located in the Larger Lake Titicaca. It has an area of 14 sq km. Most part of it is composes of agricultural terraces used since the Tiwanaku era. This island houses archaeological ruins of the Inca and Tiwanaku cultures, including Chinkana, Pilcocaina and the Inca staircase. The importance of this island, according to the mythology of the Inca Empire, is that Mama Ocllo and Manco Kapac (children of the sun god) departed from this place to establish and govern the city of Cuzco.
Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon)
It is not far from the Isla del Sol. On the island, you can find the Iñac Uyo Temple. La Isla de la Luna was, according to history, the place where the Ajllahuasi's ruins (Palace of the Virgen Women) were found as well as the sacred temple of Iñac Uyu, a palace in ruins. This structure is now used to practice rituals and offerings by Aymara people who recall the Quechua culture. It can also be attended by visitors who like to practice mystical tourism.
The 25 island families live on farming and fishing. They grow maize, potatoes, oca and fava beans and raise sheep and llamas. They fish ispis and Karachi from the lake.
This town is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, capital of the Manco Kapac province in the department of La Paz. Currently, around 6.000 people live in this town and their main activity is tourism due to the cultural and religious significance of the Lake Titicaca and the Sanctuary of Virgin of Copacabana. In this town there are also museums and archaeological sites from the Inca times.
The community of Sampaya is situated 15 kilometers north of Copacabana, taking the road toward Yampupata. This is a pre-Columbian jewel hidden in one of the most charming places of the lake. In the nineteenth century, the famous explorer and archaeologist Friedrich Uhle came to Sampaya in search of a "quipus", but instead he bought a "resalipichis", a leather piece painted with simple sepia figurines that conformed a hieroglyphic writing to display Christian prayers. That object is now preserved in the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. When you get to Sampaya, the visitor will be amazed with the road made entirely of stones that is approximately four meters wide, the Inca Trail. Beneath that picturesque route runs a stream, which was channeled in pre-Columbian times. The rectangular houses with stone walls together with mud mortar masonry, gabled roofs with a structure of tree trunks and leather cords, covered with paja brava (straw) keep alive the experience of sharing with pre-Columbian people. From Sampaya, there is a privileged view of the Isla de la Luna (Island of Coati), Lake Titicaca and the snowy peaks of the Andes Cordillera.
- Altitude: 3841 masl (Considered one of the highest lakes in the world)
- Average temperature: 6 °C in winter and 11 °C in summer
There are public buses departing hourly from La Paz city from the General Cemetery area. This option is more recommendable if you are travelling in group and during daylight hours as this is not a safe place for tourists. Your second option to get to Copacabana is taking tourist buses departing at 5 am from hotels (subject to planned schedule) and at 3:30 pm from the La Paz bus terminal.
Both Puno and Copacabana are located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, but if you want to enjoy the touristy attractions of the Bolivian side, you can take public buses to Copacabana hourly. Also, there are touristy buses departing from Puno bus terminal at 7 am and 3 pm.
The only way to get to Copacabana from Cusco is to first travel to Puno and then take another bus to Copacabana. The buses between both cities depart hourly every day and the trip takes around 12 hours.